the last supper

kid kibbeh pies with cranberry & sumac sauce

In my little world, the month of May has proven to be anything but dull. It all began on a sunny Tuesday, May 1st to be exact. I rocked up to work expecting business as usual only to be greeted with a last minute company wide meeting in which the managing director announced that due to the poor performance of the Australian business, there were going to be cutbacks and restructuring. A few short hours later I was clearing my desk and leaving the building for the last time. Yes my friends, I was the lucky recipient of a golden handshake and on a day no less than International Worker’s Day, or Labour Day to others – nothing like a bit of irony.

After a few moments to get over the initial shock that a third of my team had been given the chop, the reality set in. Here I was on a lovely autumn day in my favourite city in the world, freed from a job that wasn’t exactly fulfilling (gigantic green Froot Loops anyone?). The sun was shining, the birds were singing and I had four months pay to find myself a new way to earn a crust.

Although I was planning on a healthy dose of R&R, it seems that the universe had other plans. Rather than spending every minute basking in the warming sun of perfect Sydney autumnal days, I found myself with a list of things to do. In three short weeks I have managed to fit in a trip to the country to visit my mum (who is two thirds of the way through her chemo and bald but doing fine with still more energy than your average person, bless her), four interviews, one psych test, accepting a new job offer, and moving house.

The latter activity was the only one that I had actually planned. For a while now I had been trying to prepare for my impending relocation and decrease the supplies in my larder and freezer by playing the game of eating-up-what’s-already-in-the-house rather than purchasing new food. Although I did struggle with this, a girl needs her fresh fruit and veg, so while some perishable items were permitted, it did make me pay a lot more attention to the contents of my freezer.

The last proper meal I ended up cooking before my big move out of Paddington was based around a leg of kid, a leg of kid with a past. My dear friends Colette & Kieran are keen market shoppers and regulars at both the Pyrmont and Northside farmers markets. Usually they shop together but one morning a good few months ago, Colette was unable to make it and sent Kieran off alone. Rather than returning with a traditional leg of lamb amongst their usual bounty, Kieran had decided to mix it up a little and came home with a fine hunk of kid.

While in some households this initiative may have been applauded, it was not the case on this occasion. When relating the story to me, a still incensed Colette exclaimed ‘I can’t believe it. The man bought baby goat, there’s no way I can cook that…eeweeh’. Being both a diplomat and a fan of kid, I offered to take it off their hands. After a few missed attempts, I gladly took ownership of the little leg and safely stored it in my own freezer. A few months went by before my freezer project kicked in and stirred me into action.

The kid and kibbeh pies in Janni Kyritsis’ Wild Weed Pie had been on my list for a while. With this key ingredient procured, it seemed only fitting to use this as the base of my last proper dinner. A lucky frozen tub of mahmarra, that more-ish red capsicum and walnut dip spiked with pomegranate molasses proved and ideal way to begin the meal, mopped up with the last of my pita bread stash. Then for dessert I had visions of finally using up the poached quinces that I had made early in the autumn. It took, however, a lovely dinner at Vini, a hole in the wall Italian joint in Surry Hills, and more specifically their pear and chocolate tart for me to figure out just what to do. While the results were delicious and incredibly rich, it was quite a journey to get to that point. But as they say in the classics, that’s a whole other story…all good things.

a middle easternish supper for 8*
kid kibbeh pies with cranberry & sumac sauce
wilted English spinach
‘the problem child’ chocolate & quince tart

* note: For the recipe for mahmarra, click on the link in the menu. And watch this space for the story behind ‘the problem child’ chocolate & quince tart.

kid kibbeh pies with cranberry & sumac sauce
serves 8
Inspired by Wild Weed Pie by Janni Kyritsis

This is one of those dishes that looks dead impressive but isn’t that tricky to make. Exactly what everyone needs in their dinner party repertoire. You just need to have some time on your side to get the prep work done in advance and then pop the kibbeh into the oven to bake while you’re eating your starter.

Of course if you’re like my good friend Colette and not that into baby goat you could easily sub in lamb. For the sauce Janni used the more traditional Middle Eastern dried barberries. I wasn’t able to get my hands on any so went with dried cranberries and a touch of sumac to give it some zest. Janni used burghul wheat in the kibbeh bit but again I went with the easier sourcing option of couscous to no apparent detriment.
The other major change I made was to use the spice blend Baharat in place of the Ras el Hanout that Janni preferred.

for the kid:
900g diced kid meat from the leg
3T olive oil
1 brown onion, peeled & diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery
6 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed
1T Baharat
1 tin tomatoes
500mL (2C) chicken stock
for the kibbeh:
500g lamb fillets, diced and any sinew removed
200g couscous
2t ground allspice
2t ground cumin
for the sauce:
45g butter
5 brown shallots (eshallots), finely diced
135g (1C) dried sweetened cranberries (craisins)
500mL (2C) chicken stock
1/4t Baharat
1T sumac
for the spinach:
4 bunches English spinach, trimmed and well rinsed
40g butter
large pinch freshly grated nutmeg
The day before you want to serve, preheat your oven to 160C. Heat olive oil in a large flame proof casserole dish over medium heat. Cook kid stirring frequently until browned. Remove kid from the pan and add onion, carrot and celery. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook stirring occasionally for approx 20mins or until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Add garlic and Baharat and cook stirring for a minute or so. Add tomatoes and stock and bring to a simmer.Transfer to the oven and bake, stirring occasionally for approx 2 hours or until the kid is super tender and the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened. Season and allow to cool then cover and refrigerate until the next day.

For the kibbeh, soak couscous in plenty of cold water for 10minutes. Drain and transfer to a clean dry tea towel. Wrap and wring out the couscous to remove as much water as possible. Place diced lamb in a food processor and pulse until you have a coarse paste. Add drained couscous and spices and continue to whizz until well mixed. Season and divide into 8 portions. Roll each into a ball and wrap tightly in cling wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

To assemble the pies, take a portion of kibbeh and roll out between two clean sheets of cling wrap until you have a circle approx 20cm in diameter. Transfer with the cling wrap to line a small bowl about the size of a tennis ball. Remove the top layer of cling wrap and place 1/8th of the kid mix in the centre of the lined bowl. Using the bottom piece of cling wrap gather the kibbeh up to encase the kid. Place a small square piece of baking paper over the join section of the pie and then invert the pie so that the join is on the base sitting on the square of paper. Remove the remaining layer of cling wrap and transfer to a baking tray. Repeat with remaining kid and kibbeh. Refrigerate until you are ready to bake.

For the sauce, heat butter in a small saucepan and cook the shallot over a medium heat until soft. Add remaining sauce ingredients and bring to the boil. Simmer for approx 30mins, stirring occasionally until reduced to a nice saucey consistency. Season, cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Preheat the oven to 250C. Prick a hole in the top of each pie and bake for 20-25min or until golden and sizzling. While the pies are baking melt butter in a very large saucepan. Add spinach and cook over medium heat stirring frequently until the spinach is just wilted. Spice with nutmeg and season well.

To serve: divide spinach between 8 warmed plates, draining and discarding any excess liquid. Spoon a pool of hot cranberry sauce next to the spinach and place a pie in the middle of the sauce.


  • Jules, first allow me to say this – PHEW! what a month! LOL! But honestly you have kind of motivated me. I am not too happy with my job right now and am half heartedly looking for something else. I read your post and see your energy and positive aura. It goes right into my soul. Thanks. Even your dish shows how wonderfully resourceful you are!

  • Sometimes that’s what we all need, a dose of surprise and fate. I wish you luck in your new endeavours! Thoughts and prayers for your mum too.

    The Kid Kibbeh looks fab!

  • Jules, I’m sorry to hear about you losing your job, but I’m glad to read that you’ve bounced back from it so robustly. It’s charming to read about your last supper in your old home. Any chance you’ll be sharing your all important first supper in your new home? Hope you’re well.

  • hi Jules, I’ve been reading your blog for a loooong time now, happily lurking away and I though it was time to change that. Sounds like you had a crazy month, and still you manage to make such wonderful dishes! Your blog inspires me – I recently made your almond bread (13.11.2006) with hazelnuts instead of almonds and it was a big hit all around. Love your photographs as well, they’re so sunny.

  • i’ve been following ur site for awhile now and have always been impressed by the lovely food, beautiful photos and good write-ups. i’m sorry to hear abt the loss of ur job and am glad to u’ve managed to bounce back brilliantly. Here’s to more good things!

  • Congratulations on making so much out of a difficult situation. Very inspiring and impressive just like your food and photography :)

  • Commisserations on your job.. or should I say congratulations? Now you can start to do something you’ll truly enjoy..?

    That kid and kibbeh recipe has been on my mind too, though I still haven’t tried it. Good to know someone has.. it looks so fabulous! :)

  • Hey Jules – I am amazed by your “inventiveness” and making it sound so effortless to make. You truly have a gift with your cooking and photography. Lots of luck with your new ventures and best wishes to your mum

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